KARACHI: Sindh Health Department officials and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have expressed concern over the increasing number of extensively-drug resistant (XDR) typhoid cases in the province.
Worldwide, typhoid infects around 21.6 million people every year, while the disease kills between 2,000 and 6,000 people each year. India and Pakistan are the most affected countries by the disease in Asia.
The officials announced that the government will launch a Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) campaign against the XDR typhoid fever from 18th to 30th November 2019. Their target is to vaccinate around 10 million children in Sindh and they advised the citizens to adopt simple hand hygiene methods and avoid eating unhealthy food.
“Antibiotic resistance has become a major issue in the treatment and there are a few limited antibiotic options that have remained effective,” they said. “As many as 4,709 typhoid cases were registered in Sindh during August 2019, out of which 2,999 cases were reported in Karachi only.”
Dr Khalid Zuberi, the provincial government’s consultant, said during his presentation that contaminated water is one of the major causes of typhoid fever. As a major step towards eradication of typhoid, the protection and purification of drinking water supplies must be ensured and improvement of basic sanitation and promotion of food hygiene must be encouraged to eliminate the disease from Sindh, he said.
Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) former project director, Dr Zahoor Ahmed Baloch said that the typhoid outbreak in Karachi and Hyderabad had prompted the need for TCV campaign in Sindh.
“TCV campaign has been planned to target 10.1 million children (in the province) under 15 years of age (9 months to 15 years),” he said.
Suneel Raja, another provincial consultant, announced that the vaccination for XDR typhoid fever has also been added to the expanded program on immunisation. He added that citizens need to join hands with the government to fight against typhoid and other fatal diseases prevalent in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2019.